American political leaders tend to be homeowners

A recent study looked at how many political leaders in the United States are homeowners or renters:

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The researchers identified 10,800 representatives across city halls, state houses, and federal offices in 2019 and cross-referenced their home addresses with tax records. They found that about 93% of US senators, congressional representatives, federal judges, city council members, state senators, state representatives and governors definitely or likely owned a home.

In another sample of 1,800 city-level officeholders, the discrepancy between voters and their electeds was stark: For the 190 municipalities researchers examined, citywide homeownership rates were around 50%, while 83% of mayors owned their residences…

Despite these high-profile exceptions — both young people of color, like Azeem — researchers found that in city after city, the broader homeownership trend held, even in costly cities like Miami and Boston, where renters dominate. “There aren’t really any cities where large numbers of renters have been elected to local, state or federal office,” Einstein said.

The paper describes two “bottlenecks” that could prevent renter representation: Either fewer renters run, or fewer voters are willing to elect them. By analyzing the housing status of city council candidates in California between 2017 and 2018, they found that the former is more likely…

Elected officials are even more out of step with their communities when it comes to where and how they live. Researchers found that the homes occupied by local, state and federal officials were worth an average of 50% more than their zip code’s median value. The higher the level of public office, the greater the ratio. Nearly 80% of officeholders who owned their houses lived in single-family homes, while only 67% of houses across the country are considered single family.

Who will represent the renters in a country that loudly proclaims its preference for homeownership?

If you have a list of steps one needs to take to be a successful politician, add this one to early in the list: own a residence.

How exactly does wealth play into this? Does wealth lead to both homeownership and the possibility of running for office?

A possible follow-up study: do political candidates run markedly different campaigns given their homeownership status or do they generally play to the ideals of homeownership?

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